July 12, 2005

‘Four’ is fantastic at North American box office

By Brian Fuson

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - The heroes of "Fantastic
Four" turned out to be superhuman in more ways than one as the
film's scorching debut of $56.06 million helped end a
19-weekend losing streak at the North American box office,
according to final data issued Monday.

The stellar No. 1 debut of "Fantastic Four" took the
industry by surprise, far outdistancing the mid-to-high $30
million range that was anticipated heading into the weekend.

The final box office tally for the 111 films tracked by The
Hollywood Reporter this past weekend was $148.8 million, up a
mere $500,000 from the comparable frame in 2004. And thus
concludes the longest down "weekend" streak since 1982, when
accurate North American weekend box office records first began
to be compiled by box office analyst A.D. Murphy.

But it should be mentioned that two of those same 19 full
"weeks" (Friday through Thursday) were higher in 2005 due to
strong midweek business. For the record, the second-longest
streak of down "weekends" occurred in 1985 with 17; followed by
1991 with 14. The years 1995 and 2000 each had 11 consecutive
down "weekends."

Fox's "Fantastic Four" was the third-biggest opening of the
year behind the studio's "Star Wars: Episode III -- Revenge of
the Sith" and Paramount's "War of the Worlds." The Tim
Story-helmed sci-fi adventure, based on a Marvel comic book
that was first published in 1961, turned in the fifth-biggest
July opening.

"Fantastic Four" skewed slightly more male and definitely
was a hit with the younger moviegoers. Overall, the PG-13-rated
picture scored a moderate 85% positive grade, according to
CinemaScore, a grade that doesn't necessarily lend itself to
holding up strongly in the weeks ahead.

"War of the Worlds" came in second for the weekend with a
striking $30.47 million on its sophomore frame. The Tom Cruise
starrer, directed by Steven Spielberg, held up reasonably well
as the 12-day haul advanced to an impressive $164.98 million.

Warner Bros. Pictures' "Batman Begins" spread its wings at
No. 3 with $10.01 million on its fourth session. The fifth
feature installment of the Caped Crusader has accumulated a
stout $171.90 million to date.

Disney's "Dark Water" debuted at No. 4 with a soggy $9.94
million. The supernatural thriller, starring Jennifer Connelly
and directed by Walter Salles, is a remake of a Japanese film
directed by Hideo Nakata. A dismal 44% of viewers polled gave
the PG-13-rated film a favorable nod, according to CinemaScore.
The picture skewed female and older.

Among limited releases, Warner Independent Pictures' "March
of the Penguins" jumped five places to No. 13 with an
impressive $1.02 million from just 64 engagements in its third
weekend. The French documentary has taken in $1.94 million, and
will expand to 500-600 runs on July 22.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter